For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a teacher. In kindergarten, my friends and I played school every day after school. We would use Smarties candies for chalk on the chalkboard because we didn't have real chalk. You know. There weren't Dollar Stores back then.
I went through the motions in middle and high school. But I was really only there for the social scene. And, ...
I had my Rose-Colored glasses on. My parents never mentioned things like race or color. They never taught me that I was better than anyone else. I pretty much liked and got along with everyone.
I was only in 10th grade when I started college. I was ready to get the hell out of that sheltered little town. I married my best friend. And I'm glad to say, we're still married today...in spite of me.
I finished my course work for a degree in elementary education in 1995. When I finished, finding a teaching job in my home state of Minnesota was impossible. Even substitute teaching was nearly impossible to get because the job market was so saturated. And frankly, Desi and I were sick of the cold. So...I finished my student teaching in Texas. When I graduated, we moved closer to the coast near Galveston. I found a job that no one else wanted. I had 12 students who were chronologically 1st graders. However, they were so deficient in readiness and social skills, that there was NO way they would be ready for 2nd grade by the end of the year. Many of the little ones I taught didn't even know their last name. Others came to kindergarten and were completely nonverbal because no one talked to them at home. Still others were still not potty trained. Many came to school for the breakfast and lunch program alone because these were the only meals they would have in a day. I remember one boy, Marcus. He suffered from multiple personality disorder. He actually spoke in 2 different voices. One was Marcus, the other was a deep-scraping voice that creeped the hell right out of me. He had been placed in foster care after his mother was arrested for drug use. His father was deceased. While in foster care, he was molested by another foster child. He was severely abused, locked in a closet, duct taped to a chair for days, and fed dog food. Another boy came to school one day describing how he was very tired. He had found his uncle hanging from a tree in the back yard and the police had been at there house until well after midnight. Augustine was a 2nd grader. His mother was a single parent. His older brother was severely disabled - multiple schlorosis. His mother was a nurse so Augustine was in charge of taking care of his brother when his mother was working. He had to help bath, dress, and feed the rest of his siblings breakfast every morning. He was 7 years old.
Christopher was a second grader living with his grandparents. His parents left the state and didn't want him. He repeatedly would cut in front of the other children in line at the drinking fountain and go right to the front. I finally had enough of asking him to get back in line where he belonged. I asked, "Do you think you're better than any of these other kids?" And he replied, "Yes. My Paw-Paw said I don't have to drink a the fountain after the n*ggers do." I was shocked. Wouldn't YOU be? I spent the next 4 years at that school trying my damnedest to save the world, one child at a time. But I couldn't. I just couldn't. That was one of the most disappointing realizations I've ever had.
Now, I have my own children. Two daughters. I've traveled to many places...WE'VE traveled many miles together. My rose-colored glasses have long since been lost.
But I decided something just tonight. I have decided that I can still make a difference. Children, kids, teens. They need people who still have their rose colored glasses on. They NEED us. And I, for one...will be there. I will.
So I'd better start shopping for a new pair of rose colored glasses. I'll be going back in the Fall.